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Gm Crops

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) biotechnology companies and (b) health and environmental campaign and voluntary groups regarding the scale and scope of farm scale trials of GM crops. [114025]

I announced the programme of farm-scale evaluations of GM herbicide tolerant crops in October 1998. In February 1999, the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions consulted stakeholders, including biotechnology companies and health and environmental campaign and voluntary groups, about the proposals for the evaluations, the hypothesis to be tested and scale and scope of the field trials. Following this, in May 1999 the then Secretary of State appointed an independent Scientific Steering Committee to oversee the conduct of the evaluations. This Committee provides on-going advice to Ministers on all aspects of the design and methodology. Their advice is publicly available on the farm-scale evaluations website (www.defra.gov.uk/environment/fse)Since the evaluations were set up, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have had various meetings with representatives from biotechnology companies and health and environmental campaign and voluntary groups at which the farm-scale evaluations have been mentioned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 12 May 2003 to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), Official Report, column 6W, on GM field trials, what form the forthcoming public debate on GM field trials will take. [114251]

The Government are sponsoring a public debate on GM issues, which is being managed by an independent Steering Board at arms' length from Government. The Steering Board will be launching a series of events on 3 June 2003, through which the public will have the opportunity to debate the issues surrounding genetic modification, including those related to the GM field trials. Members of the public can get involved either by attending one of the regional or local meetings or by accessing the website.Once the scientific papers reporting the results of the GM field trials are published and in the public domain, there will be a further opportunity to comment on the implications.